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Outa laments poor e-toll attendance

Nov 14 2012 12:41
Johannesburg - Public meetings on the e-tolling of Gauteng freeways are being poorly attended, the Opposition To Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) said on Wednesday.

"The notification of these hearings has been typically dismal and as such, only around 60 people arrived at this first of three sessions," Outa head Wayne Duvenage said.

"A number of those present only knew about the hearing after seeing this on the Outa... and Facebook site[s]."

He said the handful of people who attended the first meeting held in Kempton Park on Tuesday night voiced absolute rejection of the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and government's plan to toll Gauteng's freeways.

Duvenage said public sentiment showed that people were not willing to register for e-tags.

"Outa encourages the public to participate and engage when and where it can, thereby sending a clear message to the authorities of their rejection of this inefficient plan, and waste of taxpayers' money."

Last month, the government and Sanral announced new tariffs for e-tolling of Gauteng's freeways.

The announcement, made on October 26, marked the beginning of a 30-day public consultation process.

After this, 14 days would be set aside for Transport Minister Ben Martins to "apply his mind", and another 14 days for the gazetting of the final tariffs.

This would mean e-tolls could come into effect four days before Christmas.

The Sowetan newspaper reported on Wednesday that members of the public walked out of the Kempton Park meeting, as they were not satisfied that their objections to e-tolling would count.

Almost half of the 60 people who had attended complained that government had not consulted them before the toll gantries were erected, the paper reported.

The people disrupted the meeting after they were told that the meeting was not to hear objections but was an information sharing session, the Sowetan reported.

"We have poor communities who have been registered as indigents by the local municipality. Government should have collected the register from the municipality to see if they should not be exempted from paying," said Russel Baloyi, one of those who attended the meeting.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions said it was disappointed with the way the meetings were handled.

"Residents at the meeting... were angry that having at last had an opportunity to discuss the tolls, they were told that Cabinet had already agreed to the proposal and that these meetings could not change that decision," said Cosatu's Patrick Craven.

Another public meeting would be held at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria on Thursday.


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